I’LL ADMIT IT, I’ve always preferred green to gold. If you’re my age (you have my sympathy), you’ll know what I’m talking about. Back when cameras were loaded with film canisters rather than memory cards, the two big players in film production were American superbrand Kodak (gold) and Japanese giant Fujifilm (green). While Kodak had the major market share, Fuji was the favourite with many consumers and pros.
Step forward a couple of decades and the once-supreme Kodak has all but disappeared. Fujifilm, on the other hand, is going from strength-to-strength, thanks to the growing popularity of its X-series premium compacts and Compact System Cameras. As in the days of film, followers of Fuji remain passionate and vocal about the brand, arguably more so than with any other camera system. Perhaps this is because the ‘underdog’ spirit has remained, or because Fujifilm is very proactive to listening to user feedback. Whatever the reason, I was glad to find out first-hand if the latest Fuji would live up to the hype. With many DSLRs being similar in terms of features and performance and having, how can I describe it, a somewhat ‘sterile’ operation, it would be good to see if the Fuji had its own special quality that would make it a pleasure to use.
In terms of design, the retro appeal of the Fuji X-T10 is certainly a winner. Its compact and lightweight body looks classic and expensive. Build quality is impressive too – while it may lack the weatherproofing of the more expensive X-T1, it retains a robust and solid feel. The three large top-plate dials help retain a traditional film SLR appearance and are nicely sized, with each click-stop having a reassuringly positive action. On the right side are the exposure compensation and shutter speed/exposure mode dials. Between these sit the on/of switch and an Auto lever that allows you to instantly stick the camera into aperture-priority or program modes, along with a small red video record button. The main dial on the left side handles frame advance and a number of other shooting modes, including sweep-panoramic and exposure bracketing.
The rear of the camera has a neat arrangement of buttons running above and to the side of the LCD monitor. Fuji has clearly made access to functions a key priority. Press the Q (Quick) button to bring up a large number of icons, or use the MENU button at the centre of the four-way control for an alternative route to the heart of the camera’s facilities. A Fn button on the bottom right corner lets you select from a number of modes (including ISO ratings), while two input dials with push-functions give further options. This choice can be a little bewildering when you first start using the camera but this is simply because Fuji is giving you a level of customisation and access to features that you’ll not find on many cameras. Use it or ignore it as suits.
This depth of options (along with cost) may explain why the LCD lacks a touchscreen interface. While I’ve found this facility useful on other models, I don’t think its omission is a major negative on the X-T10. The 3.2in LCD monitor itself is very good, with a clear, sharp display and a useful tilting platform. The electronic finder is excellent too, providing a very bright image and a wealth of information. The camera can be left to switch automatically between the two when you place your eye to the finder or you can manually select one or the other. I found the auto-switching worked well. I found the X-T10 was relatively easy to use, the only issue was getting used to its way of operating as it’s diferent to the majority of DSLRs. Once you have, you discover it to be a fast and enjoyable camera to use, with plenty of customisation on ofer. It handles well too, with the smaller, lighter body balancing nicely with the supplied 12-24mm zoom. The body shape is far less curvy than DSLRs, with small, rubberised hand- and thumbgrips providing the only purchase. It wasn’t an issue for me, but if you’ve very large hands and thick digits or plan to regularly use longer lenses, it’s best to check first that you can live with the ergonomics of the X-T10.
As expected of a stripped-down version of the X-T1, the X-T10 shares many of the features found on its more expensive sibling, including the same 16.3-megapixel X-Trans CMOS II APS-C sensor and EXR Processor II. Considering the overwhelmingly positive feedback given to the X-T1’s image quality, this can be seen as a good thing, although many would-be purchasers may consider the resolution as relatively low considering most rivals boast 20-megapixels plus. Full HD video recording is available, but not 4K. Unusually the minimum ISO rating is 200 but the nominal range of 200-6400 can be expanded to ISO 100-51200.
Unlike the vast majority of its rivals, the Fuji does away with Scene modes, ofering just program, aperture- and shutter-priority AE and manual. This is another indication of how Fuji is aiming this at the more creative photographer, rather than the mass-market ensemble. This for me is a smart move.
The exposure system is well catered for, with 256-zone, spot and centre-weighted metering patterns. Exposure compensation and bracketing options are also available.
The X-T10 boasts an intelligent hybrid autofocus system with a wide array of options. A switch on the front of the camera allows the standard choice of single or continuous AF, as well as manual focus. Depending on the AF mode setting, it uses 49 areas within a 7×7 grid or 77 areas within a 11×7 grid. You can choose to use individual points, groups of sensors or wide-area focus.
With Fuji having such a heritage in film, it’s no surprise that you can shoot images that reflect classic Fuji emulsions such as Provia, Velvia or Astia. Further in-camera processing is possible by selecting one of the Advanced Filter settings, such as Toy Camera, Pop Colour or Miniature, but in JPEG only.
There are numerous other features on the X-T10, such as built-in Wi-Fi, an interval timer and (unlike the X-T1) a built-in flash, so check Fuji’s website for the full specification.
In terms of performance, the Fuji acquits itself well. The AF system has been updated slightly from the X-T1 and is fast and responsive. JPEGs are sharp and boast excellent colour rendition and contrast, with the multi-zone system proving consistent in most situations. Noise is very well controlled and you can shoot up to ISO 3200 and still capture images that are more than usable. It’s not a perfect camera, but is there such a thing? In reality, the quibbles I have with it are minor and more than made up for by the enjoyability of using it. I can certainly see what all the fuss on Fuji forums was about.
- Price (body only): $850 (guide) / $680 (street)
- Image sensor: (APS-C) X-TRANS CMOS II
- Resolution: 16.3-megapixels
- Maximum image resolution: 4896x3264pixels
- AF: Hybrid (TTL contrast AF / TTL phase detection AF)
- ISO range: 100-25600
- Shutter speeds: 1/4000sec-30 seconds & Bulb
- Continuous frame rate: 8fps
- Built-in flash: Yes. Guide Number: 5 (ISO 100, m)
- LCD monitor: Tilt-type 3in 920,000-dot
- Storage: SD (SDHC/SDXC)
- Size: 118.4×82.8×40.8mm
- Weight: 381g (inc battery and card)